International Condemnation of Israel – So What’s New?

International Condemnation of Israel – So What’s New?

By C. Hart

The Israeli government is bracing itself for more condemnation from the international community this week, at an upcoming meeting of the Quartet, scheduled for March 19. It’s expected that the gathering will become another diplomatic opportunity for international leaders to blast Israel regarding West Bank settlements and Jerusalem building projects. Condemning Israel has now become common place for world leaders, especially those wanting to successfully implement their new policy objectives; and, for those striving to solidify a more influential position in Middle East politics and diplomacy.

After the faux pas on Israel’s part during the recent visit of American Vice President Joseph Biden, media headlines, once again, highlighted the glaring divisions between the Jewish State and its main western ally. As Biden was attending a ceremony at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Ministry of Interior announced the approval of new construction on 1,600 housing units in a northeast neighborhood of Jerusalem.

The announcement caused an American uproar, because the Palestinians, with the backing of the Arab League, had finally agreed to proximity talks with Israel. The United States had been working on getting the Palestinians and Israelis back to the peace table since American President Barack Obama took office more than a year ago. Failing to witness any progress, U.S. envoy George Mitchell was finally able to see a possible breakthrough on the horizon — temporary indirect talks, leading to direct talks in a few months’ time. Having secured the indirect talks, American leaders were now set to go with their new foreign policy plan, already eagerly putting a fresh timetable on the yet-to-begin proximity talks; not paying attention to continued timetable failures in the past.

But, America’s new policy soon unraveled after the brouhaha in Jerusalem during Biden’s visit. What followed was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attempt to recoup his political losses, hoping to regain the trust of U.S. leaders. He’s not only being challenged on the diplomatic front, but also from within his own government. A shake-up among his coalition partners is unfolding as left-wing Labor Party members claim they will quit his government by September 2010 if no diplomatic progress has been achieved.  New elections, and a left-leaning Israeli government, would sit well with the Obama Administration.

Meanwhile, the ill-timed northeast Jerusalem housing announcement has resulted in the Palestinians, backed by the Arab League, voicing their original demand of Israel. They are insisting, once again, that Israel meet their pre-condition (no building in the West Bank or Jerusalem), or they won’t sit down for proximity talks.  This domino effect has infuriated not only the White House, but also the State Department.  The U.S. has perceived that the Israeli government’s announcement weakened America’s foreign policy efforts, which were already weakened by Israeli-Palestinian intransigency during Obama’s first year in office.

Trying to clean up the diplomatic mess, Netanyahu has offered several apologies to the Obama Administration which have fallen on deaf ears. He has promised that construction on the Jerusalem neighborhood will not start for several years. But, the Americans and the Palestinians are not listening. They want more. This has now become a new opportunity by the U.S. State Department to exert public pressure on Israel to stop building in east Jerusalem, a red line that the current Netanyahu government has been unwilling to cross.

The issue goes much deeper than what appears on the surface.  The State Department has never recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s sovereign eternal and undivided capital. This has put the State Department in the Palestinian camp on this issue in a very public way.


What makes matters worse is that Biden came to the Middle East to prove to Israelis just how much the Obama White House cares and is on Israel’s side. Obama’s public relations effort was meant to emphasize the unique partnership of two democratic allies who have formed a strategic alliance of cooperation in this volatile region. During his visit, Biden stated over and over again, America’s unswerving commitment to Israel’s security. 

Yet, that commitment apparently does not include protecting Israel’s capital and holy sites by respecting and honoring Israel’s sovereign historical and biblical right to rule over Jerusalem. America’s commitment also, apparently, does not require the U.S. to show concrete confidence-building measures to the Israeli people by moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  Furthermore, in this American commitment, President Obama does not feel it is important to visit the Jewish State after fawning on Arab leaders in several neighboring states since he was elected.

In other words, the White House commitment to Israel is about vital security interests, but not within the framework of building a trusting relationship to help Israel overcome its uncertainty about Obama’s true intentions.  Biden’s visit made this all the more apparent to Israeli citizens in a way that no Tel Aviv university public relations speech could.

Condemning Israel for building in a neighborhood that, in any case, will remain under Israeli jurisdiction in any future agreement with the Palestinians, shows the deep misunderstandings between the U.S. and Israel over the peace process.

The U.S., once again, is overplaying its hand, appearing to be pro-Palestinian in its policies, acquiescing to Palestinian demands, and hurting peace efforts. This has further jeopardized American’s role as an honest peace broker in the Middle East. So, why continue the unrelenting pressure on Israel in such a public way?

Pressuring Israel has become a path, on the part of previous American administrations, toward squeezing out Israeli concessions. Obama is now using this same tactic, but in the public arena for global consumption. Continuing to bring the dispute into the international limelight emboldens other politicians and diplomats to follow suit. This, then, contributes to Obama’s efforts at leading and building a comprehensive Middle East peace coalition which will be supported and backed by international bodies respecting international law.

The Palestinians have already successfully used the United Nations as a forum to internationalize their dispute with Israel, resulting in the condemnation of the Jewish State through many UN resolutions. They would like this to continue until the UN imposes stiff sanctions on Israel.

The European Union has also entered the fray. Last week, while the media was busy highlighting Biden’s visit to Israel, it almost went unnoticed that the European Parliament announced it had endorsed the Goldstone Report, accusing Israel of alleged war crimes in the 2008-09 Gaza war with Hamas. Meeting in Strasbourg, just over 50% of the Parliament voted to take a stand in favor of the report. Israel’s Foreign Ministry was disappointed that the announcement came at a time when Israel and the Palestinians had finally agreed to proximity talks. Furthermore, the un-timely decision of the Parliament members bolstered the visit of EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who is set to travel to Israel and Gaza, where more condemnation of Israel can be expected.

Moreover, the European Parliament’s decision to side with the Goldstone Report highlights the ongoing campaign to de-legitimize Israel, under the false allegation that Israel has violated international human rights laws.  This erodes global public support of Israel through a biased and distorted picture of the Jewish State as an “illegal occupier” and the Palestinians as “innocent victims”. 

The Palestinians, working diplomatically to help Hamas in Gaza, have been successful in diverting public attention away from the terrorist activities of the Hamas government. Focusing international attention on condemning Israel has also helped to minimize gross human rights violations on the part of Hamas, especially the use of women and children as human shields during times of war. This is the real violation of international human rights laws, which is virtually being ignored by the international community.

The Palestinians have not only become successful in fighting Israel within the framework of international bodies, but have tried to undermine Israel’s ability to self-defense in any future war. This campaign of de-legitimizing Israel has been working well. Anti-Israel hatred and anti-Semitism against Jews in the Diaspora is now more publicly accepted and legitimized through continued international condemnation of Israel. This is occurring, not only through the Goldstone Report, but also through the laws of international jurisdiction, where ordinary citizens can take Israeli leaders to court over alleged war crimes, threatening their arrest upon arrival in certain European nations.

The Dubai attack against a high level Hamas terrorist was blamed on Israel, backed by one eager UAE police commander who twisted the plot to de-legitimize the work of Israel’s main security agency. This put the focus on the Mossad instead of on the arch terrorist who had murdered Israelis and smuggled highly sophisticated arms into Gaza.  It also gave international leaders excuses for bashing Israel and bringing the Jewish nation to task for a crime yet to be proven.

When Netanyahu put the Cave of the Patriarch’s and Rachel’s Tomb on the list of important Israeli heritage sites for refurbishing, America and Europe condemned the move, saying it would not help advance peace efforts with the Palestinians.  Never mind that Israelis see the sites as their biblical and historical roots to the land; and, despite the fact that the Israeli government is willing to give oversight of those holy places to the Palestinians in any future peace agreement.

According to international law expert Irwin Cotler, the recent condemnation by international leaders, claiming that Israeli settlements are “illegal”, has further played into the de-legitimization of Israel.  He explains that people can have their opinions that the settlement policy is bad or is wrong-thinking.

“That is very different from saying that Israel is systematically violating international law in its settlement policy. That raises the specter of Israel as being an international outlaw.”

So, why is the international community taking a stand against Israel in such a public demonstration of condemnation?  Blaming Israel has become an accepted diplomatic path towards weakening Israel’s resolve, and forcing the Jewish State to give up its claim to its land. 

This is a new policy initiative that does not appear to be a formally coordinated and planned effort among nations and international bodies. But, it does help the United States, the UN, the EU, Russia, the Arab League, and the Palestinians to further their goal of imposing a two-state solution on Israel according to the pre-1967 or 1948 borders; one that is set to endanger the vital security interests of the Jewish State. This is the very thing that America has publicly promised Israel it would not do. So far, Israel’s main western ally has not convinced Israelis of what its true intentions really are.

A New Low (Relations with Israel poor w/ Administration but popular as ever with American people)

A New Low (Relations with Israel poor w/ Administration but popular as ever with American people)
Commentary Magazine ^ | March 13, 2010 | Jennifer Rubin

Posted on 03/13/2010 7:39:43 AM PST by Stoat

A New Low

JENNIFER RUBIN – 03.13.2010 – 10:17 AM

It is hard to imagine that U.S.-Israeli relations could have reached this point. But they have. The Washington Post aptly described where we stand: “Ties Plunge To A New Low.” In short, “relations with Israel have been strained almost since the start of the Obama administration. Now they have plunged to their lowest ebb since the administration of George H.W. Bush.” And there is no improvement in sight. After the public and private scolding by the vice president over the building of housing units in Jerusalem, Hillary Clinton continued the hollering, this time in a conversation with Bibi Netanyahu that was eagerly relayed to the media:

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley described the nearly 45-minute phone conversation in unusually undiplomatic terms, signaling that the close allies are facing their deepest crisis in two decades after the embarrassment suffered by Vice President Biden this week when Israel announced during his visit that it plans to build 1,600 housing units in a disputed area of Jerusalem.

Clinton called Netanyahu “to make clear the United States considered the announcement a deeply negative signal about Israel’s approach to the bilateral relationship and counter to the spirit of the vice president’s trip,” Crowley said. Clinton, he said, emphasized that “this action had undermined trust and confidence in the peace process and in America’s interests.”

As the Post points out, the relationship has been rocky from the get-go. (”From the start of his tenure, President Obama identified a Middle East peace deal as critical to U.S. national security, but his efforts have been hampered by the administration’s missteps and the deep mistrust between the Israelis and the Palestinians.”) Actually, it is the mistrust between Israel and the U.S. that is at the nub of the problem. We hear that the Obami intend to use this incident to pressure Israel to “something that could restore confidence in the process and to restore confidence in the relationship with the United States.” And it is hard to escape the conclusion that the Obami are escalating the fight — making relations more tense and strained — to achieve their misguided objective, namely to extract some sort of unilateral concessions they imagine would pick the lock on the moribund “peace process.”

It’s mind boggling, really, that after this public bullying, the Obami expect the Israelis to cough up more concessions and show their faith in the American negotiators. And if by some miracle they did, what would that change? Where is the Palestinian willingness or ability to make a meaningful peace agreement?

In the midst of the administration’s temper tantrum, we find yet another reason for George W. Bush nostalgia: we used to get along so much better with Israel. Bush’s deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams (who had the curious notion that a relationship of mutual respect and affection could encourage Israel to take risks for peace) writes:

The current friction in U.S.-Israel relations has one source: the mishandling of those relations by the Obama administration. Poll data show that Israel is as popular as ever among Americans. Strategically we face the same enemies — such as terrorism and the Iranian regime — a fact that is not lost on Americans who know we have one single reliable, democratic ally in the Middle East. … the Obama administration continues to drift away from traditional U.S. support for Israel. But time and elections will correct that problem; Israel has a higher approval rating these days than does President Obama.

Very true, but alas, both American voters and the Israelis must endure at least another few years of this. When the Obami talked of restoring our standing in the world and repairing frayed relations with allies, they plainly didn’t have Israel in mind. They have, through petulance and complete misunderstanding of the real barrier to peace, made hash out of the U.S.-Israeli relationship. Those who imagined we’d be getting smart diplomacy must now be chagrined to know how ham-handedly one can conduct foreign policy.

Sarah Palin: With a Stiff Spine America Must Stand Against Obamacare

Sarah Palin: With a Stiff Spine America Must Stand Against Obamacare

 Yesterday at 11:24am
If Senator Reid, Speaker Pelosi, and President Obama get their way, soon our country will be changed forever. Using every partisan parliamentary trick in the book (including some they invented just last week), Washington’s Left intends to ram through their takeover of our health care system regardless of the consequences.

The latest twists and turns in the Obamacare drama seem almost surreal. One minute the Democrat leadership is trying to amend a bill before the president has even signed it into law, and the next minute they’re trying to draft a new rule that will allow the House to “deem” a bill passed without actually voting on it! They’re determined to use the Senate reconciliation process as a parliamentary trick to bypass the regular voting procedure (and by the way, to add insult to injury, they’re now going to ram through federalization of America’s student loan industry with this same reconciliation vote). Is there any other wildly unpopular legislation they’d also like to sneak in? Perhaps the anti-energy-independence policy “Cap and Tax” (aka Cap and Trade) is next?

And make no mistake, the Obamacare bill is wildly unpopular. The Democrats’ own pollsters warn of an “unmitigated disaster” for them in November if they don’t abandon their plan and start over with real incremental health care reform. Incredibly, at this point, they don’t seem to care. Speaker Pelosi thinks Congress must pass the bill so that the American people can then “find out what’s in it.” We know what’s in it. We don’t want it. The Democrats will take short-term electoral losses in exchange for long-term radical change of the United States of America. They assume we’ll come to accept this new intrusion of government once we’re stuck with it. That’s why we can’t concede this battle. Americans must stiffen our spines and stand against this action that violates the will of the people with centralized government mandates and crippling costs.

Republicans in Congress are holding the line, and some Democrats are standing with them. Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) said he won’t vote for the Senate bill if federal funding of abortion is included. Last Friday, he told National Review Online that some Democrats have told him that if abortions aren’t covered in Obamacare then “more children will be born, and therefore it will cost us millions more…Money is their hang-up. Is this how we now value life in America?” As I wrote in my first post on this topic, human rights and human dignity must be at the center of any health care discussion. Government health care will not reduce the cost of medical care; it will simply refuse to pay it. And who will get left behind when they have to ration care to save money?

Please ask yourself: who will be left behind? And who will decide – what kind of panel will decide – who receives the health care that government will obviously have to ration?

There’s a great deal of pressure being put on Stupak’s pro-life Democrats. They’re already dwindling in number. Their party is threatening them, and so are powerful SEIU labor union bosses. The Democrats respecting the sanctity of life have every incentive to buckle under the pressure, so they need to know that we’ll support them if they do the right thing and vote no on Obamacare.

Please take the time to get involved in the debate this week. There are many grassroots efforts under way. There will be a march on Washington on Tuesday, March 16th (see here for details). Rep. Michele Bachmann has a “Kill the Bill” online petition that you can sign here. Most importantly, contact members of Congress and offer your support if they do the right thing.

We know we’ll beat them at the ballot box, but we have to kill this bill before November. This is the final push. We must stand up and stand together one last time to insist on true market-oriented, patient-centered health care reform that reflects America’s values and the will of the people.

– Sarah Palin

Any dialogue with Hezbollah is futile

Any dialogue with Hezbollah is futile

By Elias Bejjani

Lebanese politicians and leaders from rival parties are scheduled to engage tomorrow, March 09/10 in a new national dialogue session at the presidential palace under the chairmanship of President Michel Suleiman to look into means and ways that could ultimately lead to the disarmament of the Hezbollah terroris Iranian militia and give the Lebanese central government the sole authority on the decision making process of war and peace.

Hezbollah is insisting that the fate of its weapons is not on the table by any means, and arrogantly is calling on all the Arab countries to adopt its role model of resistance against Israel and abandon hope of reaching peace with Israel via negotiations.

Meanwhile, several top notch Hezbollah leaders have been lately boldly and with a tone of overt intimidation and threats asserting almost on daily basis that those Lebanese politicians and leaders who call for its disarmament are Israeli and American agents and traitors. Hezbollah wants all the Lebanese people to embrace its weaponry and support its “divine resistance”.

Cabinet Minister Mohammed Fneish, representative of Hezbollah in the Al Hariri government, said yesterday that disarming his “resistance” group was not up for discussion in the dialogue session, but instead that the national defense strategy would be appropriate for discussion. According to Hezbollah this strategy should give its leadership more power and more authority to safeguard all of Lebanon against Israel. “Some have implied that the dialogue session seeks to decide on when Hezbollah will be disarmed,” Fneish was quoted as saying by the Anbaa News Agency. “This issue is not a subject for discussion and will not be debated at the dialogue session,” Fneish said.

Prime Minister Saad Al Hariri and his pro-independence 14th of March Coalition have failed to resolve the thorny issue of Hezbollah’s weapons since the end of the Syrian occupation in 2005. The current Hariri government is crippled due to the fact that Hezbollah and its puppet allies who are Iranian and Syrian mercenaries have the upper hand in all its decisions. They have a veto power through which they can kill any decision that is not in their favor.

Although the 14th of March won the majority in last year’s parliamentary elections and defeated a Hezbollah-led coalition backed by Iran and Syria, Hezbollah has refused to disarm and has been doing so since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war and insists that its weapons are necessary to defend Lebanon against Israeli aggression.

The first Lebanese national dialogue sessions were held in 2006, before the devastating war between Hezbollah and Israel, to determine the fate of the weapons held by this Shiite Iranian terrorist militia. But it has been delayed several times because of the country’s successive political crises.

Hezbollah has built up its arsenal in recent years from 14,000 rockets at the outbreak of the 2006 war to more than 40,000 now. It fired around 4,000 rockets into northern Israel during the 2006 war. Last month, Hezbollah General Secretary, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah vowed to unleash the group’s military might on Israel’s infrastructure, including Tel Aviv airport, should the Jewish state attack Lebanon.

It is worth mentioning that during its deplorable occupation era, Baathist Syria had forced since 1982 the armed Hezbollah Shiite organization under the disguise of resistance against Israel, as well as many other armed Lebanese and Palestinian militias, safeguarded the outlaw status quo of the cantons it created in all the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and produced a corrupt and conscienceless generation of subservient puppet Lebanese politicians who are professionals in camouflage, carrying on flimflam, fraud, knavery, treason, lying and cheating.

The disarmament of Hezbollah must be a priority in the rational dialogue sessions that will start today. All manipulative, Trojan and twisted justifications used by Hezbollah’s leadership and their Syrian and Iranian rogue regimes to hinder Hezbollah’s disarmament must be addressed openly, exposed publicly and stripped of all lies and threats in front of all the Lebanese people and the whole world.

Hezbollah which is an Iranian-sponsored Shiite terrorist jihad militia based in southern Lebanon, Beirut and Bekaa Valley, was the only Lebanese armed militia allowed by Syria to remain armed in 1990 when Christian, Druze and Muslim Lebanese militias were all disarmed in accordance with the “Taef Accord” (forced on Lebanon’s MPs in a conference held at the Saudi Taef City in 1988 to end 15 years of internal Lebanese wars). Syria also did not disarm any of the Palestinian militias and at the same time did not allow the Lebanese authorities to carry out this duty.

Hezbollah militarily and administratively fully controls Lebanon and its government. This current bizarre armed status quo is in defiance of the Lebanese constitution and of both the “Taef Accord” and the UN Resolutions 1559 and 1701, as well as the “Armistice Agreement” that regulated the Lebanese – Israeli borders (signed in 1949).

Both UN Resolutions 1559 and 1701 as well as the “Taef Accord , call for the disarmament of all militias, for the Lebanese army to patrol the Lebanese Israeli border and for the Lebanese government to enforce its control and authority on all the Lebanese territories through its own legitimate armed forces.

Hezbollah strongly refuses to disarm, while its General Secretary Sheik Hassan Nasrallah and many other of his top aides have publicly cautioned that any hand that dares to touch their arms has to be an Israeli one and will be accordingly severed. At the same time they keep on threatening that any attempt for their disarmament will lead to a state of internal unrest and confrontations.

All the Lebanese leadership is required to take a clear-cut stance on Hezbollah’s weaponry and declare publicly what kind of dialogue they are perusing? Is it the kind of dialogue that Hezbollah is after in a bid to safeguard its current military status quo at the expense of the central government authority, keep its huge arsenal, maintain full control on the cantons it erected in South Lebanon, Beirut suburbs and Bekaa Valley, and keep Lebanon’s decision making process for peace and war in the hands of Syria and Iran? Or a dialogue that is preset to fully disarm Hezbollah, disintegrate its military structure and help in its integration into the political, democratic and peaceful Lebanese life?

It is a sad reality that the majority of Lebanese political and religious groups, including the Lebanese government members, are either camouflaging and frightened to take a stance or are on Hezbollah’s side for religious or personal agenda reasons.

We strongly believe that both the UN and free world countries who prepared, sponsored and passed the UN Resolutions 1559, 1701 and forced Syria to put an end to its occupation of Lebanon, have a further obligation to see that all clauses of these two resolutions are implemented and that Hezbollah and all the other Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias are disarmed, or otherwise the whole Middle East will know no peace and the war against terrorism will never be won.

Elias Bejjani is a human rights activist, journalist & political commentator who writes for the Global Politician about issues concerning Lebanon. He is the Spokesman for the Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation (CLHRF) and the Media Chairman for the Canadian Lebanese Coordinating Council (LCCC)
E-Mail: LCCC Web Site:

More Crazy Talk from ‘Muslims of the Americas’

More Crazy Talk from ‘Muslims of the Americas’

Posted By Ryan Mauro On March 13, 2010 @ 12:00 am In Column 2, Crime, Homeland Security, US News, World News | 26 Comments

The Muslims of the Americas organization (MOA) and their anti-Semitic leader in Pakistan, Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani, are back at it with the crazy talk. Apparently, the movie Avatar is a tool of Satan, and Gilani has the keys to save the day with his study of “Jinniology” and miracle-making abilities. I knew James Cameron was a jerk, but now I really don’t like him.

For those who are unfamiliar with this group, the Christian Action Network [1] (where I am the national security advisor) released a documentary last year called Homegrown Jihad about them and their isolated communities in the U.S. that are sometimes dozens of acres large.

The film contains footage of Sheikh Gilani teaching his recruits all sorts of paramilitary tactics and telling his viewers to go to these Muslims of the Americas sites to receive such training. In December, a confidential law enforcement source gave me two videotapes filmed by the MOA. One showed their female recruits at their “Islamberg” headquarters in New York learning how to slit throats and fight with swords, and simulating ambushes that included firing guns into a lake.

The other was a propaganda tape in which one of the leaders said that they performed a census and found that Muslims are the majority of the American population — and therefore the U.S. is now a Muslim country that they will defend from all enemies, foreign and domestic. We turned this into a YouTube video [2] that has since had over 140,000 views. As I’ve written [3], there is also evidence of paramilitary training at other MOA sites, and I continue to receive recordings of gunfire coming from “Holy Islamville” in York County, South Carolina. Since then, MOA has threatened [4] to sue the Christian Action Network for a video we didn’t make. The organization has also released [5] its own “documentary,” which claims that our images of Gilani are digitally created and that we’re part of an evil Zionist conspiracy against Muslims.

The MOA and its defenders continue to say they are peaceful, and it is probably true that many members are not violent and are not receiving paramilitary training. This does not make them moderate. They believe their leader is a descendant of the Prophet Mohammed and acts as a spokesperson for Allah. In fact, he is rabidly anti-Semitic and attributes the attacks of September 11 to a Jewish New World Order conspiracy. He describes [6] Osama bin Laden as a “Saudi activist” and says he has met Jesus and the Mahdi, who will appear in less than ten years. At the very least, we should be concerned about the extremist indoctrination of Gilani’s followers.

With this type of mentality, it actually isn’t surprising that MOA is hard at work trying to fix the damage done by Avatar. A report about viewers feeling depressed when they finish the movie and realizing real life will never be as good as the Na’vi homeland is cited as proof of its evil.

“If this Satanic technology in movies and the internet is left unabated then who amongst our youth will be left to defend our country and our ideals? America must wake up to this present danger,” the press release [7] warns. It ends with a plea for CNN to air Gilani’s documentary about “the existence of non-human beings that exist amongst us” who are satanically using the media and politics. Luckily, Gilani has the supernatural power to fix this problem and the group has released video of him lecturing about these beings called the “Jinn.”

The MOA is also pressing [8] for an end to the war in Afghanistan and an end to the U.S. airstrikes in Pakistan authorized by President Obama — who they believe [9] to be a descendant of Mohammed. They say [10] that the U.S. is giving “misleading reasons” for the strikes that are killing innocent people, apparently believing that the idea that we’re trying to stop terrorists is farfetched. To be fair, as a Sufi, Gilani is no friend of the Taliban. He said [11] he may have to “join hands” with the Pakistani army against them. This does not mean he isn’t an extremist, though. It is interesting to note that Pakistan is refusing [12] to give two high-level MOA members visas to visit the country.

Since negative attention was brought to the group, they have begun dispersing. The Christian Action Network has received a number of reports of members leaving several compounds and moving into nearby communities. The Northeast Intelligence Network has published a report [13] confirming such decentralization, saying that the training that took place at “Islamberg” has been moved to mosques, Islamic centers, and national forests in the state. This same tactic is used by a very similar group [14] called “Ummah” that used a mosque in Michigan to train followers and create an armed team.

The My Pet Jawa blog reported [15] on January 4 that a law enforcement source had informed them that some “Islamberg” residents had left the compound in order to participate in a tax fraud scheme, utilizing mosques in Brooklyn and the Bronx. The money from the scheme would be sent to overseas accounts to help fund Sheikh Gilani’s organization.

The media is brushing off the threat posed by this group. They will only believe that paramilitary training is being offered if their reporters see it with their own eyes or if the group openly admits it. The media should be asking more questions about the ideology of the group and the beliefs of the man its members have committed their lives to following.

Gibbs: At This Time Next Sunday, Generalissimo Obama’s Health Care Dictates Will Be The Law Of The Land

Gibbs: At This Time Next Sunday, Generalissimo Obama’s Health Care Dictates Will Be The Law Of The Land

March 14th, 2010 Posted By Pat Dollard.


The Hill:

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the healthcare bill will pass by next weekend.

“We’ll have the votes when the House votes, I think, within the next week,” Gibbs said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Gibbs added that those on next week’s Sunday talk shows “will be talking about healthcare not as a presidential proposal but I think as the law of the land.”

President Barack Obama will look to campaign on the new healthcare law in midterm elections, Gibbs said.

“We believe healthcare reform is going to pass, and once it passes we’re happy to have the 2010 elections be about the achievement of healthcare reform,” Gibbs said.

But Republicans on Fox said there’s no guarantee the bill passes and that Democrats will benefit from it.

“If they pass this thing, I think they lose the House of Representatives this fall,” said former Bush White House adviser Karl Rove.

If Democrats do pass it, “then the American people will be the losers,” said House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.).

“This is a trillion-dollar-bill attempting to overhaul healthcare for every single American,” Cantor added.

The bill in its first 10 years will cost nearly $900 billion.

Cantor also criticized Democrats for talking about “bending the rules” by holding a single House vote that allows passage of both the bill passed by the Senate and a package of fixes. That move, under consideration by House Democratic leaders, would keep House members from voting on unpopular parts of the Senate bill, namely special deals that were included to win over recalcitrant senators.

“There should be in the minds of most Americans a direct vote on the Senate bill,” Cantor said.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), a member of House Democratic leadership, dismissed suggestions the House will pass the Senate bill without a vote, but he left open the possibility of packaging the fixes with the underlying bill.

“We’re going to have an up or down vote,” he said.

When Aid is No Way to Aid a Country

When Aid is No Way to Aid a Country

Posted By Theodore Dalrymple On March 15, 2010 @ 12:03 am In FrontPage | 3 Comments

The New York Times on March 10 quoted a United Nations report to the effect that aid given to Somalia was not reaching the people most in need of it, that is to say the malnourished and the starving.

I would not be telling you the truth if I said that, when I read the news, you could have knocked me down with a feather. Can there be anyone left in the world who thinks that aid will go only, or even mainly, to the people most in need of it? By comparison with such a belief, faith in Father Christmas is a model of rational expectation. At least the presents arrive, even if Father Christmas doesn’t.

I have been to Somalia only once, in the comparatively palmy days of the wily dictator, Siad Barre, who by then had jumped ship from the Soviet to the American (Ethiopia has jumped in precisely the opposite direction). Among my treasured possessions of no value to anyone but myself is a Soviet-era (and produced) phrase book, with such essential expressions as ‘Hand me the opera glasses, please, and ‘How many workers does your collective farm have?’ translated into Somali. As everyone knows, Somali was reduced to writing only very recently; the Soviet time reduced it further in no time to nonsense.

Even then, in those comparatively happy times (in how many countries in the world are the days of some loathsome dictator looked back upon with nostalgia, if not longing?), I should not have mistaken Somalia for a country in which the distribution of aid was likely to proceed smoothly in the direction of the needy. Far from it; and I also became rather sceptical there of the foreign distributors of aid.

I remember going into the headquarters of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Mogadishu to obtain information about the cholera epidemics then raging in some of the refugee camps. I was somewhat surprised to find two things: first, a complaint on the UNCHR staff notice-board that the portions in the staff canteen were too small, and second that the staff were de facto on strike because of the Somali government’s insistence on exchanging their salaries at the official exchange rate, which was only a fraction of the open market rate.

In effect, this little vignette captured not the paradox of aid (a policy that is persisted in cannot be regarded as paradoxical once its effects have been generally recognised), but the very essence of aid. In short, aid is no way to aid a country.

Another so call ‘paradox’ that is often referred to in the press is that of African countries that have remained generally impoverished despite the existence of vast natural resources. Nigeria and the Congo are two prominent cases that spring to mind. But the paradox is not a paradox, at least in the sense that it is something not explicable.

In most African countries, it is not the enterprise of the local people that had led to the extraction of mineral wealth, but rather that of foreigners, exploitative as they may often have been. Even though local people have supplied the manual labour necessary to the extraction, the wealth as a whole that accrues to African society as a whole comes as a free gift, more or less as aid does.

This is a disaster for the rounded development of a backward country, for it makes control of the government (which receives the bulk of the wealth accruing to African society from mineral extraction) the most important, and sometimes the only, path to personal or ethnic advancement. Ambition itself is wholly politicised, therefore, and  the humble task of producing things is left to the unambitious and perhaps the less able.

In countries such as Nigeria and the Congo, the mineral wealth is not sufficient by itself to enrich the population as a whole (unlike in Kuwait, for example, where everyone can be well-off doing nothing). However, the mineral wealth is more than sufficient to make those who control it very rich indeed. Wars are worth fighting in the Congo because control of the minerals is so lucrative, where the other possibilities are such commodities as coffee and bananas. In Nigeria, the oil revenues are immense by comparison with those of all other sectors of the economy: and Nigeria’s share of the oil revenues goes more or less straight to the government. If you mix in a little ethnic discord with government control of mineral revenues, the scene is set for prolonged, indeed endless and often bloody political struggles. Far from being a blessing, therefore, oil wealth has been a curse for Nigeria.

In countries less well-endowed with extractable wealth, foreign aid has played the part of oil in Nigeria. Oil constitutes at least 80 per cent of Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings; in several African countries, foreign aid constitutes very nearly as much.

This results in the same perversions of the national economy, and the same obstacles to real development, as oil has done in Nigeria. The ambitious and able people want to join the government, and so life in general is deeply politicised; genuine economic life is paralysed, and becomes a desperate zero sum game.

When this happens, there is a built-in and deeply perverse incentive to continue to follow policies that impoverish, for a flourishing economy would obviate the supposed need for the foreign aid which is the source of the power, influence and wealth of the elite through whom it is funnelled. Here is one case in which poverty really is a source of wealth.

The most extreme instance of the above syndrome is civil war. It is therefore not in the least surprising that aid to Somalia is not reaching the neediest; it would be very surprising, indeed it would be absolutely astonishing, if it were. Neither is it surprising, however, that it should be reported as if it were surprising (unsurprising news not being news). For otherwise, the fact that aid does not reach the neediest would be a threat to our sense of power, our feelings of omnipotence. How could a few lousy uneducated Somalian gunmen be thwarting our infinite benevolence?

Article printed from FrontPage Magazine:

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Obama’s Final Push

Obama’s Final Push

March 15th, 2010

Pelosi and Marx on ‘Freedom’

Pelosi and Marx on ‘Freedom’

By Ed Kaitz

Nancy Pelosi wants to give birth to a new kind of freedom in America — the freedom from being “job-locked.”

In an interview with Rachel Maddow Thursday evening, Pelosi asked Americans to “think” about a bright, new, liberating kind of utopia:
Think of an economy where people could be an artist or a photographer, a writer without worrying about keeping their day job in order to have health insurance. Or that people could start a business and be entrepreneurial and take risks, but not be job-locked because a child has a child has asthma or diabetes or someone in the family is bipolar. You name it, any condition is job-locking.
Maddow was so overwhelmed and smitten with Pelosi’s remarks that she posted the interview on her website under the following title: “Finally! Pelosi frames health reform for the win. (Hint: It’s about freedom.)”
The problem with Pelosi’s remarks, however, is that from hindsight, they are not bright, new, or liberating. On the contrary, almost identical words were penned over a hundred years ago by another champion of economic “freedom”: Karl Marx. Marx criticized the private economy because it led to the “renunciation of life and of human needs.” 
Like Pelosi, Marx was deeply troubled by an economic system that left most people job-locked and unable to satisfy their “human need” to become more authentic. In other words, the more you have to work, said Marx, “the less you eat, drink, buy books, go to the theater or to balls, or to the public house, and the less you think, love, theorize, sing, paint, fence, etc.”
Marx chastised the middle class in England for being “so incurably debased by self-interest” and thirsty for a “quick profit” that they were incapable of recognizing the alienation from their true selves. Communist society, then, was the cure that could liberate us from our false selves and usher in a new kind of creativity and authenticity.  Says Marx:
[C]ommunist society … regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner, as the spirit moves me …”
This kind of sheer lunacy could have been hatched only by an unemployed academic and journalist like Marx, who, by the way, was supported financially in his authentically job-liberated struggle against capitalism by his wealthy colleague Friedrich Engels. What’s most disturbing is the number of wild-eyed crusaders, both then and now, who have fallen for Marx’s creative definition of “freedom.”
As for that nagging issue of just how “communist society” will “regulate the general production” after the socialist revolution, Engels had this to say:
The community will have to calculate what it can produce with the means at its disposal; and in accordance with the relationship of this productive power to the mass of consumers it will determine how far it has to raise or lower production.
In other words, leave it to the “community” (government) to worry about levels of production and consumption in order for the newly liberated and formerly “job-locked” citizens to pursue their lifelong dreams of being artists, writers, or photographers.
Friedrich Hayek wrote about this subtle shift in the word “freedom” over sixty years ago. He argued that as socialists began coming under fire for promoting servitude and control, they made the creative decision to harness to their “cart the strongest of all political motives — the craving for freedom.” For Hayek,
The subtle change in meaning to which the word ‘freedom’ was subjected in order that this argument sound plausible is important.  To the great apostles of political freedom the word had meant freedom from coercion, freedom from the arbitrary power of other men, release from the ties which left the individual no choice but obedience to the orders of a superior to whom he was attached.
For the socialists, however, “before man could be truly free, the ‘despotism of physical want’ had to be broken, the ‘restraints of the economic system’ relaxed.” For Hayek, this new definition of freedom was simply “another name for the old demand for an equal distribution of wealth.”
Hayek asks a fascinating question that each and every American needs to consider before deciding whether to return any Obamacare-supporting politician to power this fall:
Who can seriously doubt … that the power which a multi-millionaire, who may be my neighbor and perhaps my employer, has over me is very much less than that which the smallest [bureaucrat] possess who wields the coercive power of the state and on whose discretion it depends whether and how I am to be allowed to live or to work?
Nancy Pelosi’s theory of “economic freedom,” you see, requires legions of new bureaucrats wielding the power of the state so that you can be liberated from your inauthentic, job-locked selves. If we take freedom in its true meaning — as freedom from coercion — we see instantly, however, that indeed, I am less coerced by a neighboring millionaire than by the tiniest government bureaucrat deciding where and when I can see a doctor, go to school, or become job-locked.
Years ago, before he died, I asked my father what he liked most about working in the home-building industry. After having been “job-locked” in the housing industry for over twenty years, he told me the following: “For me, the best thing of all is seeing a new family move into one of our homes.”
My father wasn’t a writer or an artist, but he was a kind, decent, hardworking man who loved his job and his family. Rather than struggle against the system and neglect his children like Marx did, my father felt it was part of his job, not the government’s, to take care of his family — including our health care.
Sounds pretty authentic to me.

White House backs down on health bill deals

White House backs down on health bill deals


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Mar 14, 11:40 AM (ET)

WASHINGTON (AP) – The White House is backing down from trying to get senators to remove some special deals from the health care bill.

Senior adviser David Axelrod says the White House only objected to deals that affected just one state, such one involving Medicaid and Nebraska that’s being cut from the legislation.

Axelrod says that deals that could apply to more than one state are OK.

That means deals pushed by senators from Montana and Connecticut would be fine because they’re written in such a way that other states could potentially qualify.

It’s a change from a couple days ago when press secretary Robert Gibbs singled out the Montana and Connecticut deals and said President Barack Obama wanted them gone.

Axelrod spoke on ABC’s “This Week.”